Day 1: Hoh Rain Forest and Kalaloch Beaches
Among the only protected temperate rain forests in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hoh Rain Forest is a not-to-be-missed attraction on the West Side of the Olympic Peninsula.
Moisture-laden air from the Pacific brings an average of 140 inches of annual rainfall to the Hoh Valley, (record of 190 inches) in addition to condensed mist that contributes another 30 inches. Nineteen miles inland from Hwy 101 you’ll find the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center. Three loop trails near the Visitor Center are easy to stroll and give a great sampling of the area: The Hall of Mosses Trail is 3/4 mile and shows the moss-draped maples, magically green in the spring, spectacular with color in the fall and a treat any time of year; the 1 1/4 mile Spruce Nature Trail meanders through the late-secessional (younger) forests of red alder and cottonwood, showing the landscape carved over thousands of years by this glacier-fed river; and a paved 1/4 mile nature path suitable for a wheelchair or stroller.
The Hoh Visitor Center is also a starting point for longer and more challenging hikes to alpine meadows and glacier fields. Trekking with llamas is one way to explore the interior of the Park, when llamas pack your gear while you just pack yourself! River floats trips are available in summer on the Hoh River, and local fishing guides offer great sporting and photography trips year-round.**
Scenic ocean shores with easy access are found in the Kalaloch (pronounced clay-lock) area, 15 miles south of the Rain Forest Road on Hwy 101. Beach Trail 4 is a pebble beach with dramatic surf (beware of the strong undertow), tidal pools and is a popular place to dip for smelt (schools of small fish that spawn in the surf in warm, calm weather and can be caught with a large net).
Picturesque Ruby Beach with a meandering creek, dramatic sea stacks, and drift logs is named for its sometimes garnet-colored sand. A gold mining operation was located here in the early 1900s. The Rain Forest Country Adventures Map shows the beaches, attractions and services in the Hoh Rain Forest and Kalaloch areas,including the specific route to the worlds largest western red cedar off Hwy 101.**
*Fees for use in Olympic National Park or Olympic National Forest may apply, for information and a map call (360) 565-3100 or visit the National Park Service or Olympic National Forest, or call (360) 374-7566.
** For brochures, maps mentioned, referrals and/or seasonal information contact the Forks Chamber of Commerce.